Marketing is an investment. It is an investment in your brand, your people, your products, and your customers. And, just like the investments in one’s portfolio, the bottom line IS the bottom line. So, what does it take to ensure marketing ROI?
Take a holistic look at sales and marketing
Effective marketing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Marketing touches nearly every aspect of an organization, both internal and external. Therefore, marketing goals shouldn’t be set in a silo. That said, it’s important to understand the connection and interplay between various strategies, tactics, and teams in order to effectively evaluate what’s working and where there is room for improvement. Simply put, you need to know what role sales, marketing, customer service, etc. are each playing in achieving results. Yes, integration is key to success but it is also critical to be able to evaluate each component independently.
Remember, marketing is a broad term that can encompass everything from the internal e-newsletter that goes to employees each month to the causes with which your company chooses to align. It’s the experience current and prospective clients have sitting in your waiting room and the benefit they gain from using your product or service. It’s also the driving force behind customer engagement…
Follow the plan – plan for the unexpected
Who doesn’t want satisfied and engaged customers who voluntarily serve as word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse brand ambassadors? Effective marketing strategies are dynamic, engaging, nimble and can easily be adapted to seize timely opportunities in the marketplace. For example, if a series of multimedia blog posts featuring key takeaways and trends from an industry tradeshow are garnering the most comments and shares, but your content focus for the next month is supposed to be about compliance, find a way to leverage more of what’s working and refine your strategy appropriately. Remember, taking advantage of unanticipated opportunities isn’t just about tying your company to timely news stories or social media trends – it’s about looking at your business KPIs and making sure marketing is aligned.
Understand the drivers
Why are you gaining or losing market share for a particular product line? Why is the smaller, lesser-known competitor down the street outperforming you in key verticals? What precipitated the increased demand for your product or service during a typically slow time of year?
Aligning business and marketing is about more than just understanding what happened, it’s about knowing why it happened. Further, it’s about having some level of data to inform projections and predictions surrounding repeat occurrences. Just as you wouldn’t increase the production of your newest product without having done some market testing, you wouldn’t invest your marketing budget to an 80/20 social/traditional split if you didn’t have solid data and rationale to inform your decision.
Collaboration is key
As I noted early on, effective marketing campaigns aren’t conceived and executed in silos, largely because marketing touches and impacts nearly every facet of an organization. To that end, the marketing department shouldn’t be the only team with a voice in marketing. While having designated point people for marketing is key to keeping things moving, it’s important that everyone from the on-the-ground, customer-facing representatives to the C-Suite have an opportunity to lend their insights. Reality is that every person in a company has a unique role – and a unique perspective. The person who interfaces directly with clients on a daily basis will have different takeaways than the person who isn’t client-facing and so on.
While some companies leverage team brainstorms to achieve this objective, others tap into employee intranets and team-building retreats to extract these insights. Something as simple as a suggestion (mail)box or an open-door policy that encourages staff to proactively meet with marketing can also help to achieve this objective.
Whether you are a well-established company celebrating its centennial or a startup or stage two company new to marketing, the time to align your business and marketing goals is now. Remember, marketing is one tool to help achieve organizational goals and it needs to be strategically incorporated into the overall business mix in order to prove ROI.